North Macedonian utility plans three more tenders for 110 MW of solar

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North Macedonian state-owned electric company Elektrani na Severna Makedonija (ESM) will hold tenders for three more solar power plants at its shuttered Oslomej coal-fired power station near Kičevo, in the west of the country.

The announcement was made by minister of economy Kreshnik Bekteshi during a signing ceremony for the engineering, procurement and construction services contract for a 10 MW solar project tendered in April at the redundant coal plant. That initial project will be constructed by Turkish contractor Girishim Electric.

ESM chief executive Vasko Kovacevski said 17 bidders had pre-qualified for the initial tender and eight were shortlisted for the final phase of procurement with Girishim landing the deal. “We expect the power plant to be ready in 10 months and begin producing the first kilowatts of electricity from the sun in the fall of 2020,” said Kovacevski. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is backing the €8.7 million project with a €5.9 million loan.

A new dawn

Bekteshi said the new tenders will be for a 10 MW extension of the initial solar park, which will be owned and operated by ESM, and for two 50 MW projects developed on a public-private partnership basis. “The Oslomej thermal power plant has not worked for years and now in the field where coal was exploited we start with investments that will be not only in the interest of the energy sector of our nation, but also in the interest of all citizens living in the municipality of Kicevo and the surroundings,” the minister added.

The plan to convert the former 125 MW coal plant to solar was announced by EMS in September. Thermal power plants account for 842 MW of North Macedonia’s 1.41 GW of power generation capacity, with hydroelectricity and wind making up 553.6 MW and 36.8 MW, respectively.

Solar has a minimal share in the power mix, with only 18 MW of installed distributed PV capacity at the end of last year. The government, however, tendered two projects with a total capacity of 35 MW in June. In September, Bektashi said 82 investors had submitted bids for construction of those facilities.